Medicare vs. Social Security: What YOU Need to Know

By now, you’re probably familiar with both the social Security and Medicare programs that you may be offered as you reach your retirement. These are both great financial aids for you and your older years. As you look at your options pertaining to the two of them, you may begin asking yourself what the large difference between the two is and whether having one will affect your chances of gaining the other. There are a lot of questions you have to address with insurance and financial programs, but it all starts with discovering the basics.

 

So, what is the difference between Social Security and Medicare?

 

In this article, we’re going to cover:

  • What they do for you
  • Similarities
  • How one may affect the other
  • Things to keep in mind

 

What they do

Medicare is a health insurance plan that is offered to seniors or those who qualify through their disability. It’s broken up into four parts that tailor to the recipient’s needs: Parts A, B, C and D. Generally, a recipient is 65 years old and has a specified period of time in which he or she can enroll in Medicare.

 

Social Security is a benefit program that is run by the federal government. Generally, the earliest a recipient is able to start collecting his or her Social Security benefits is at 62 years old, assuming he or she meets the other specified qualifications.

 

To be eligible for Social Security, you must be working and paying the Social Security taxes. Although you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for Social Security, you must work in order to earn the benefits. This is translated into having 40 credits, which you can gather as you pay the Social Security tax on your earnings. You can earn up to four credits per year, equating to 10 years’ worth of work.

 

To be eligible for Medicare, you must have been working long enough to be able to receive Social Security benefits. You must also be a citizen of the United States. The final qualification for Medicare doesn’t apply to everyone, but it may apply to you. You may also be eligible for Medicare if you or your spouse is a government employee who hasn’t paid into Social Security but has been paying payroll taxes for Medicare.

 

You may have already known about the basic functions that the two offers, but you may still be wondering about what makes the two similar. Let’s dive into that.

 

The similarities between Social Security and Medicare

The first similarity is one we briefly touched on earlier, and that is that the two are federally funded. It’s also important to note that the two aren’t exclusive to those who are approaching retirement age. The two programs also provide benefits to those who have disabilities.

According to the federal government, you can qualify for Medicare below the age of 65 if you:

 

  • Have been entitled to Social Security benefits for at least 24 months. These months do not have to be consecutive.
  • You receive a disability pension from the Railroad Retirement Board and meet certain conditions.
  • You have Lou Gehrig’s disease. This is formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • You have permanent kidney failure.

 

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can qualify for Social Security benefits as a child if you are unmarried and:

 

  • Younger than 18.
  • 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12).
  • 18 or older that began before the age of 22.

 

In special cases, benefits can also be awarded to stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren or adopted children if they:

 

  • Have at least one parent who is disabled or retired and eligible for Social Security benefits.
  • Have a parent who has passed away after working long enough to earn enough credits at a job where he or she has paid Social Security taxes.

 

The final core similarity between the two is the enrollment. Believe it or not, you must enroll for both programs through the Social Security Administration. On the SSA’s website, you can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits, as well as check the status your applications or appeals.

 

How one may affect the other

Although the two programs offer different things to recipients, there are a couple of ways in which the two programs work in tandem. Here are some examples:

 

  • If you’re already receiving Social Security, you will have automatic enrollment into Medicare Part B. You can receive Social Security benefit as early as 62, but you cannot enroll in Medicare until three months prior to your 65th birthday. So, if you began collecting your Social Security early, you will be enrolled into Medicare Part B when you are first eligible.
  • Medicare premiums can be deducted from your Social Security benefits. Part A of Medicare is free for most people, but you are expected to pay premiums for Part B, your medical coverage. However, you can deduct your Part B premium from your Social Security payment. Let’s say you receive $1,800 a month from Social Security, and your Medicare Part B premium is $200 a month. That means you will receive $1,600 as your payment.

 

Things to keep in mind

Many people confuse Medicare with Social Security, and it’s easy to do so. Noting the similarities and differences between the two is important to know because that core understanding will help you maximize your plans to your benefit. But there are also a few other things you need to keep in mind while you consider the relationship between the two.

 

First, you can begin your Social Security benefits anytime between 62 and 70. And, unlike Medicare, it’s encouraged – if you are healthy and able – that you receive your payments as close to 70 as you can, because that way, you will earn a higher paycheck. With Medicare, however, it is important to enroll during that initial enrollment period, which begins three months before you turn 65 and lasts until three months after you turn 65. Otherwise, you face permanent penalties.

 

You also want to keep in mind the fact that you do not have to be receiving Social Security benefits to enroll in Medicare, nor do you need to be enrolled in Medicare to receive Social Security benefits.

 

If you are not enrolled in Medicare, then it is important to determine what the important enrollment dates are. You are first eligible for Medicare when you are just about to turn 65. If you do not enroll during your initial enrollment period, then there is still time. You can enroll during the Annual enrollment Period, which is held annually from October 15 through December 7.

If you have any remaining confusion about how Social Security and Medicare share a relationship, let us help you. At The Best Senior Services, we specialize in educating seniors about programs that apply to them and their loved ones and connecting them to a local licensed agent who will help seniors get what they need at their best interest. Don’t delay any longer. Call us at 855.979.8277, or visit our website today.

Differences in Medicare Plans

Medicare is something you’ve heard about throughout your adult life. And if you’re approaching the age in which you can sign up, you’ve probably familiarized yourself with it a little bit more. Even if you’ve read just a few of our blogs, you’re pretty well-acquainted with Medicare. However, it’s one thing to know about Medicare, and what its basic functions are. But it’s a completely different thing to understand how Medicare will apply specifically to you.

That’s why The Best Senior Services (TBSS) is taking the time to explain the differences in Medicare plans so that you can spend less time worrying about what you need, and more time preparing for your needs.

 

Original Government Medicare (OGM)

The OGM plan is administered throughout the federal government. Within this plan, there are two parts: Part A and Part B. You’re probably familiar with both Parts, but for a quick refresher, let’s dive into what each offer.

Medicare Part A: Part A of your OGM plan is going to be hospital insurance. In other words, it covers in-patient hospital care, hospice care, nursing home care and more. You are eligible for Part A if you are at least 65 or if you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). For many Americans with Medicare, Part A is free. Well, kind of. Most people will get Part A for “free” if they (or their spouses) have been paying into Medicare taxes for a minimum of 10 years and/or have a specific number of quarters of coverage (QCs).

Now, this is where it gets tricky. According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “the exact number of QCs required is dependent on whether the person is filing for Part A on the basis of age, disability, or ESRD.”

  • Medicare Part B: Part B of your OGM plan is going to be medical insurance. In other words, it covers out-patient medical care. According to Medicare.gov, this includes “medically necessary services” — like those that are used to diagnose you and/or treat you for an illness — and “preventive services” — health care that prevents an illness, or detect it at an early stage, when its treatment will be most effective.

    Unlike Part A, everyone will have to pay a monthly premium for Part B. However, how much an individual is required to pay will vary from person to person. Many people believe that this is based upon your location or what state you live in, but it’s actually based upon your income.

  • Medicare Part D (optional): Part D of your OGM plan is going to be prescription drugs. It is responsible for covering drugs that would otherwise be uncovered by Parts A and B.  Like Part B, individuals who have Part D will have to pay monthly premiums, as well as yearly deductibles, copays and the gap in coverage. Rates will also vary upon the individual.

    However, on the bright side, the federal government will fund 75% of the medication costs under Part D. According to Medicare.gov, how much you will owe on the coverage gap depends on:

 

  • “Your prescriptions and whether they’re on your plan’s list of covered drugs,
  • What ‘tier’ the drug is in,
  • Which drug benefit phase you’re in,
  • Which pharmacy you use,” and
  • Whether you utilize Medicare’s “Extra Help” program for paying for your drug coverage costs.
  • Medicare Supplement Plans (optional): Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap, is designed to help individuals cover costs that otherwise would not be covered by their OGM (Original Government Medicare) plan. These costs could be along the lines of copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance. It is important to note that you may only enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan if you are enrolled in OGM, and no other Medicare plan.Medicare Supplement premiums are separate from Part B premiums, meaning the two must be paid for separately. Individuals with Medicare Supplement plans can pay for their monthly premiums through their private insurance provider.

 

Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C)

As opposed to the Original Government Medicare plan, there is a Medicare Advantage plan that is offered to individuals. Also known as Part C, this plan is offered by private companies that have been approved by Medicare. Being a part of a Medicare Advantage plan will give you both Part A and Part B, as well as the optional Part D. However, an individual with Part C will be unable to enroll in Medigap.

Medicare.gov has laid out the different types of Medicare Advantage plans that you need to know about:

 

  • Health Maintenance Organization plans. In most Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), your plan will have a network. Within this network, you will have a list of doctors, hospitals, or health care providers in which your plan will be accepted. When you go outside of this network, services will not accept your plan. However, this network is not abided by when you are in an emergency situation. This means that, if you are out-of-network, and you are in an urgent situation or in need of dialysis, you will be able to seek services.
  • Preferred Provided Organization plans. Preferred Provided Organizations (PPO) allow you to pay less for specific services if you stay within your network. These services induce doctors’ visits, hospital visits and other health care services.
  • Special Needs Plans (SNPS). SNPs includes unique health care for a limited group of people. This limited group includes people with both Medicare and Medicaid, those who live in a nursing home, and/or those who are living with chronic medical conditions.
  • Private fee-for-Service plans. The Private fee-for-Service Plans (PFFS) allow you to go to just about any doctor, hospital and/or health care provider, just like you would be able to if you have the OGM plan. Your PFFS plan will help you determine how much it will be paying for these visits, and how much you will be paying when you go to these visits.
  • Medical Savings Account plans. Your Medical Savings Account plan (MSA) will combine a bank account with a “high-deductible health plan.” Medicare will deposit money into this account, and you will be able to use it to pay for your health care services. However, drug coverage is not offered by MSA plan. You will have to get Part D in order to acquire prescription drug coverage.

 

Essentially, you will find that a Medicare Advantage plan will cover most of what the OGM plan will cover, with exception to the hospice care. With Medicare Advantage plans, you will be covered for all types of emergency care. The only way in which you will be unable to receive these services while out-of-network is if you are no longer in the country.

A benefit that Medicare Advantage offers, that is not offered by Original Medicare, is dental and vision care, as well as wellness programs.

One thing that is important to note is that there is no “right” or “wrong” Medicare plan. It’s just a matter of what is the best plan for you and your loved ones. Each Medicare plan has a lot of benefits that are available to you, so it is worth exploring what options are available to you based off of your current location.

When you’re more familiar with Medicare, you feel more at ease about signing up for your plan. And The Best Senior Services can help with that too. If you have any more questions about the differences within Medicare plans, don’t hesitate to contact TBSS today. Not only do we educate seniors about Medicare and other financial services, but we also connect you with local licensed agents who are more than happy to answer any of your questions and walk you through your options. You can get started with us by visiting our website or calling us at 855.979.8277 today.

 

Are Your Medicare Supplement Rates Going Up?

Medicare Supplements, also known as Medigap, are subjective to having their rates change. In fact, if you’ve had a Medigap plan for at least a year, it’s likely that your premium has occasionally increased. If this stresses you out, don’t let it. It happens to everyone at some point.

The short answer to the question of, “Are your Medicare Supplements rates going up?” is yes. They are. But if you want to know why, and what you can do to prevent your rates from becoming crippling, then you don’t need to look any further.

This article will help explain why your rates are increasing, how to know they are going up, and what you can do about it. Let’s get started.

 

Why are rates increasing

There are a few reasons why your rates could be increasing. The first reasoning lies within the cost of healthcare as a whole. Like many other insurance services, healthcare can undergo inflation to its prices. In fact, it can even go through a deflation of its pricing, but that is a rare occurrence. So, as this change in pricing occurs, insurance companies have to mirror that in what they offer.

This can be mirrored through the concept known as “community-based pricing,” meaning that the price of your Medicare Supplement’s rates increases on account of inflation, utilization, and tobacco usage. A community-based pricing plan will have you spending the same amount on your rates as someone who is older than you, as well as someone who is younger than you are.

The second reasoning has to do with other things in relation to your demographic, such as where you live, what gender you are, how you pay for your rates and more. For example, depending on the state you live in, your rates could be different from a friend or relative who is living in a separate state. And because women tend to be healthier than men, it’s possible that women’s rates will be slightly less expensive than men. However, there are still other things that will impact what you will owe.

The third reasoning has to do with your age, it lets you know whether your rates are going up. Read further below to see how.

 

How to know if rates are going up

There is one sure-fire way to find out whether your rates are going up, and all it takes is knowing how old you are. A lot of Medicare Supplement plans are sold on what is called an “attained age pricing structure.” Essentially, it means that as your age increases, so will your rates.

So, basically, you can expect your rates to go up as you get older.

You can also expect your rates to be higher if you waited a longer time to sign up for a Medigap policy. For example, someone who has signed up for a Medigap policy at 65 will have lower rates than someone who has signed up at the age of 70. This is a concept known as “issue-age pricing,” in which the cost of your rates is based upon the age you are when you sign up.

However, you must keep in mind that policy plans will differ depending on the state you live in. Research your state’s laws online, or speak to a specialized agent, about Medigap pricing to see how you are charged for your policy.

 

How this can affect you

The great thing about Medicare Supplement policies is that it is designed to help you pay for the gap in coverage between your Medicare plan and prescription drug costs. This is especially helpful for those who would struggle to pay for that gap. But what happens if the increase in rates begin to get to be too much?

Some people are finding themselves in situations in which paying for Medigap premiums are becoming more difficult as the years go by. In these situations, it’s worth sitting down and looking over Medicare Supplements.

If you are in this situation, then there are some things you can do to reduce your costs. However, it is also recommended that you speak with your agent to determine what it is that you can do.

 

What you can do

Although it is inevitable that your rates will increase, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. One thing that you can do is switch Medigap policies. This is a common solution for many Americans who are looking to lower their Medicare Supplement premiums. However, it is important to know that once you switch to a new policy, you lose your old one and you cannot get it back.

You may also want to consider switching to a Medicare Advantage plan. The reasoning behind this could fall within both your health and your affordability. Because Medigap is linked to Medicare, you can sign up for a policy, or switch to a new one, during the annual enrollment period. However, in order to switch your Medigap policy, you will have to go through medical underwriting. This basically means that your medical history will be evaluated in order to ensure that you are actually able to switch. But let’s say that your health is deteriorating, and your medical underwriting is not approved for switching. If you can no longer afford your current Medigap policy, then it may just be time to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Part C. However, this something you should think heavily on before switching. You will want to speak with an agent, who will provide you with advice, to make this is something you should do.

However, many Americans are happy with the Medicare Supplement plan that they already have, and they’re not looking to switch anytime soon. If that applies to you, then there are still options you have to manage these increasing costs:

  • Switch carriers. One thing to consider is simply switching Medicare Supplement carriers, which is something you can do while maintaining the same plan. Contact different agencies to see what their rates for Medigap are. If they’re significantly less than your current carrier, it may be worth switching over.However, it is important to know that there will always be uncertainty about how your carrier will increase its rates throughout the years. Increases to your Medicare Supplement rates are inevitable, so switching carriers with hopes that your rates will never raise again would be an act in futility.
  • Household discounts. These are a way to keep your plan and lower your rates at the same time. However, it requires at least one other person to be living in your household who is also eligible for Medigap. If you meet this criterion, you will want to know how you can utilize household discounts to lower your rates.Household discounts are Medicap deals in which your monthly Medicare Supplement rates will be discounted whenever there are two people enrolled within the same Medigap insurance agency living in a singular address. The percentage that would be discounted will not be the same for everyone, however. How much you receive off will be determined on your location (or state) and the Medicare Supplement carrier you are using.

    You will want to get in contact with your carrier to determine whether you qualify for a Household Discount or contact a local agent to objectively determine the benefits of this discount.

 

With inflation, age and other factors determining what your Medicare Supplement rates will be, you can find yourself in a confusing and overwhelming situation. Luckily, with the help of The Best Senior Services (TBSS), this doesn’t have to be the case. With TBSS, you have a guaranteed place to go if you are looking to learn more about Medicare and other financial services. In fact, if you have more questions that are based off of your specific needs, you can be connected with a local, licensed agent who will take the time to answer your concerns. You can visit our website or call us at 855.979.8277 to get started with us today.

 

How to Reduce Your Life Insurance Premiums

Although a life insurance plan is essential for your loved ones to be able to manage financially if something happens to you, the costs can be expensive and difficult to manage. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the cost of your life insurance premiums while still having the protection you need. The best way to start saving on your life insurance is to shop around for a policy. Premiums, as well as what is excluded from the policy, can vary greatly from company to company.

Make an estimate

Insurance is often confusing and many of the exclusions within policies are hidden. But it’s essential to know the exclusions before the policy needs to be claimed. If you don’t know them, you fall risk to paying premiums that you’re unable to claim. A specialist broker can do this for you. The amount of insurance you need will have to be considered. If you take too much, you will be paying more than necessary, but, if you don’t cover yourself for enough, your loved ones could lose out when it comes to claiming. In order to determine the correct amount, you should ask yourself how much money your loved ones would need in order to cover immediate expenses. Then, determine how much income your loved ones would need in order to sustain the household. This should give you a good starting point as to how much to insure your life.

Get help from a specialist

The next step in reducing your life insurance premiums is to seek help from a specialist. There are a couple of options you have when starting your search. The first option is to seek help from an independent life insurance broker who works closely with multiple insurance agencies. This broker will provide you with objective information and suggest quotes among the agencies. The broker will consider your needs before searching throughout different agencies to find your best deal. The second option is to seek an insurance agent who represents a single insurance company. This agent will have in-depth knowledge of the pricing and services that is within his or her company. Your third option is to visit The Best Senior Services (TBSS). At TBSS, we specialize in educating seniors about Medicare and other financial services because we care. We also connect seniors and their loved ones to local licensed agents who will discuss the options that are best for them.

Think about which option will suit you and your loved ones best and seek help with them toward reducing your life insurance premium.

Make some lifestyle changes

There are many benefits to leading a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that we look great and feel better. It also saves money on the cost of your life insurance. A great way to keep your insurance cost to a minimum is to keep yourself fit and healthy. This includes the basics: drink more water, eat healthier, cut back on your smoking and/or drinking and increase your exercise time. The reason a healthy lifestyle reduces the cost of your life insurance is because you are lowering your risk of getting some of the medical conditions that would raise your life insurance premiums. Some of these conditions include heart disease, obesity and heart disease. Think about it this way: when you lead a healthy lifestyle, you lower the risk of getting sick. So, when you apply for life insurance, you’ll present yourself as a low risk for the insurance company, which ultimately lowers your premium.

Doing this presents a win-win scenario for you. Not only are you healthier, but you’re also spending less on your life insurance premiums!

Personalization

Certain conditions could mean that you would be better off going with a specialist insurer. This is because an insurer who specializes in certain conditions could save you money on your premium. If you and your partner are both looking to be insured, then taking out a combined policy could save you money on individual premium costs. This is also known as bundling. Bundling occurs when you purchase multiple policies from the same insurance provider. Insurance companies will offer discounts when you purchase more than one policy from them so, in the long run, you will be able to save more money than if you had different plans with differing companies. However. each person — or each couple — will have differing preferences when it comes to his or her premiums. That’s why it’s helpful to seek advice from a specialist who can help you personalize your premiums, so that you can determine what is best for you and your loved ones.

Utilize online resources

Sometimes, all it takes is an internet search to find great resources. These resources will give you tips on reducing your life insurance premium while also pointing you in the direction of an agency or an independent broker that is tailored to your needs. Not only that, but this is a convenient way of doing research. You are doing it on your own time, and you can get answers to the specific questions you are asking.

Ask for a reexamination if your health improves

Now that you’re aware of the fact that an improved health will reduce the cost of your life insurance premium, it’s important to be reexamined when you’re able to achieve that. It’s also important to note that different insurers will have differing policies in regard to your change. This means you may have to take a health exam. It could also mean your insurance agency will seek out updated medical records from your doctor. Whatever the case, it’s important to start making phone calls to see what is required so that you get to pay less on your premium.

Why this is important

Life insurance premiums can become costly based on what your needs are. Knowing you can reduce these costs is important. This is because there aren’t a lot of insurance premiums out there in which you can work toward lowering the payment costs. And doing what is needed to reduce the amount you own on your life insurance will allow you to focus on the things that you really care about, like your friends, family, passions, and hobbies

 

There are multiple ways in which you can lower the cost of your life insurance premium. It starts with evaluating what you have and researching ways to get started on saving. It’s important to at least consider taking the steps on how to reduce your premium costs, so that you’re benefitting yourself – and your loved ones – in the event that something happens to you. Once you begin to take these necessary steps to save on your premium, you’ll be glad you did.

If you have any other questions about your life insurance premiums, The Best Senior Services are here to help. You can get started today by visiting TBSS online or calling us at 855-979-8227.

How to Prepare Yourself for Medicare

You’ve prepared yourself for many things throughout your life: your first day of work, your wedding, your first child. Now it’s time to prepare yourself for the next big thing, Medicare. Medicare is a confusing concept to immediately understand. It takes time before you feel confident enough to tackle what lies in it. If you’re unfamiliar with the program, Medicare is a health insurance program that is typically offered to Americans over the age of 65. It began in 1965 and has been offered throughout the United States since. As you prepare yourself for Medicare, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind to ensure that you better understand what the program is and how it could benefit you.

 

The benefits of being prepared

There are benefits for being enrolled for Medicare, but there are also benefits to preparing yourself for Medicare too. The first, and one of the obvious, benefits is that you’ll know what you’ll be getting yourself into. Going into Medicare enrollment without preparation will likely leave you confused and frustrated. By preparing, you’ll have information regarding your current health insurance plan, advice from a specialized agent and desired preferences in mind. No one knows your situation as well as you do, so planning for enrollment ahead of time will help you definitively settle on what you want.

Being prepared for Medicare will also benefit you because you’ll be able to enroll early. Like we stated before, open enrollment for Medicare begins three months before your 65th birthday and lasts until three months after you’ve turned 65. Preparing for Medicare early will allow you to enroll early.

Not to mention, preparing for Medicare will make things a lot easier. When you fill out the required information pertaining to enrollment, you’ll know your answers – or have them close – so you’re not scrambling to remember anything.

First thing’s first

Before you begin the process of preparing for Medicare, you first want to ensure that you are eligible. Medicare enrollment opens three months before you turn 65 and will be open for three months afterward. However, if you’re younger than 65, you can still qualify for Medicare if you have a permanent disability, end-stage renal disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or if you have been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months. These 24 months do not have to be consecutive.

Seek help from a Medicare specialist

Whether this is an insurance agent or broker, this specialist is familiar with the concept of Medicare and is ready to help you better understand what it entails. Seeking help from a specialist will not only relieve your confusion, but it could answer questions you don’t know you have.

Talk with a specialist about the potential benefits you will get out of Medicare, as well as some of the common misconceptions that go along with it, so that you have a better understanding of what you will be enrolling in.

This is where The Best Senior Services can help. The Best Senior Services specializes in providing seniors a licensed agent in their area that prioritizes their needs. Let TBSS connect you with a licensed representative by filling out some important information.

Research your options for Medicare

Meeting with a specialist is a great step in preparing yourself for Medicare. However, you shouldn’t only gather your information from your insurance agent or broker. It’s important you do your own research as well. The research you find could range from enrollment periods that work best for you or knowing what benefits you will get out of Medicare.

You’ll also want to do a deep dive into your current health insurance plan. Consider what coverage you currently have, and whether it will change once you turn 65. Knowing what you have now will help you fine-tune what you will need – or want – to have covered when you switch to Medicare.

It could even help to talk with others who have Medicare. There are large communities of people who are enrolled in the program and can offer great advice about things you are unsure about or want more information over.

Make sure your doctor accepts Medicare

Although millions of Americans over 65 use Medicare, that doesn’t guarantee your doctor will accept Medicare as your health insurance. Speak with your doctor to ensure that he or she accepts Medicare. If not, your agent will be able to provide you specific information about your plan.

Understand the important dates

Much like other insurance policies, Medicare isn’t flexible when it comes to dates. Perhaps the most important day to keep in mind with Medicare is October 15. This is when the Annual Open Enrollment Period begins, and it lasts until December 7. That is an eight-week timeframe in which you and your eligible loved ones can enroll for Medicare.

Take things one year at a time

We all get so used to planning our entire lives out that we forget we can break the planning process into smaller parts. A great way to mentally get ready for Medicare is to take things in smaller increments. As you continue with your research, you’ll find online resources that will help you plan for your first year in Medicare. This will help you plan all of the details in a manageable way, rather than overwhelm yourself with planning years in advance.

You can find your Year 1 Medicare checklist on medicare.gov, an enrollment checklist on healthline.com or articles with checklists for Medicare online.

 

Medicare isn’t the most exciting thing to be planning for, but it’s a good thing to be considering. It offers a full array of benefits and can be personalized to your preferences. When preparing for Medicare, remind yourself of the things that you need to do to successfully enroll. You should also keep in mind the things you have discovered about Medicare in your research – both online and with a specialist. Regardless, you’re on the right path to understanding what Medicare entails and how you can conquer it.

How to Switch to a Better Medicare Plan

Nobody should settle when it comes to health insurance. Your health insurance plan should be chosen based on how well it fits your lifestyle. And sometimes, as your lifestyle changes, your healthcare needs change too. If you are enrolled in Medicare, and you need to change the plan you are in, it may seem like a daunting task to make the switch. Luckily, there are steps you can take to change your Medicare plan, and they make doing so much easier than you would think.

In this article, we have prepared a simple question-and-answer guide below to help you through this process so you can successfully prepare for your future.

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Changing a Medicare Plan: Canceling Your First Plan

When canceling a Medicare plan, do not rush yourself. First and foremost, you can cancel your Medicare Supplement plan at any time. This means that you don’t have to rush around to try to pinpoint an exact date to discontinue it. You can do this by calling your insurance company but, once it’s canceled, you run the risk of not being able to get it back. Additionally, other Medicare Supplement plans will be hard to get without medical underwriting. This means that your medical history will have to be reviewed when applying for another Medicare Supplement plan.

You have a few options as to when you want to cancel your Medicare Advantage plan, too. Many think that canceling a Medicare plan is only possible during certain times of the year, like the open enrollment period that is active every year from October 15th through December 7th. Although you can cancel during this time, there are other options available, too. You can also switch between different Medicare Advantage plans between the dates of January 1st and March 31st.

If you are still needing other options, don’t worry. Other times you can disenroll from your current plan include:

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) allows disenrollment. As you may be aware, your initial enrollment period for Medicare begins three months before your 65th birthday and is open until three months after you’ve turned 65. During this time, you are able to disenroll from the Medicare Advantage plan that you may choose. To do this, talk with a Medicare consultant at 1-800-MEDICARE or contact your plan provider.
  • Manual disenrollment. If you need to manually disenroll, you can get in touch with your plan provider and ask for a disenrollment notice, which is a card that is mailed to you for you to complete and return. You can also call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), where a representative can assist you.
  • Signing up for a new plan earns you automatic disenrollment. You are automatically disenrolled from your current plan whenever you register to a new one. People who cancel the Medicare Advantage plan typically do it because there is a change in their healthcare needs, or the cost of it just isn’t efficient.

If you want to cancel your Medicare Part A, this is where things can get a little difficult. Because Medicare Part A does not cost anything for a lot of seniors, there isn’t a way to cancel it. To unenroll from Medicare Part B, you will have to contact your local Social Security office or call 1-800-772-1213, the national phone number for the SSA.

Changing a Medicare Plan: Switching to a New Plan

There are some ways to change your Medicare plan. Which route you take depends on your current plan and which new plan you choose.

1) Switch to a New Medicare Advantage Plan

If you already have a Medicare Advantage Plan or an Original Medicare plan, you have the option to switch to you’re the new plan you have selected. In this situation, it is not necessary to cancel your old plan. Like we stated before, once you enroll in a new plan, you will be automatically disenrolled from your old one.

2) Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare.

You have the option to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare in one of three ways:

  • Visit your local Social Security Office. You can simply visit or call the office and request to be disenrolled from your current plan. Here, you will be in direct contact with a representative who will be more than happy to help you.
  • Call the Medicare number. Call 1-800-MEDICARE and request disenrollment.
  • Request a disenrollment form directly from your insurer. Your insurer will provide you instruction on how you can fill out the form and return it.

After you complete one of these three steps, you are then eligible to enroll in an Original Medicare plan. A great time to act is during the open enrollment period. You can also switch from Medicare Advantage to standard/Original Medicare) from January 1st to March 31st. However, it should be noted that you can only switch from Medicare Advantage to Medicare during this secondary period, not from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.

If you want to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to an Original Medicare one, there is a second option. You don’t just have to do this during AEP. It is your “trial right” period, which is where you can leave your plan after having it for less than one year. Also included in this trial period is the availability to go back to your old Medicare Supplement policy with no medical underwriting required, assuming your old policy is still available. If it isn’t, you will be assisted in choosing a new Supplement policy.

However, you will need to use a “trial right” Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to leave your Medicare Advantage plan during the first 12 months you’re enrolled. This is so you can re-join your Medicare Supplement, or join a new one. You can do this by calling a Medicare representative and asking more about the SEP at 1-800-MEDICARE.

Keep in mind that Original Medicare plans do not include drug coverage. It is recommended by Medicare to get a drug coverage plan, even if you are not currently taking any prescription drugs. If you need coverage for prescription drugs outside of the enrollment period, you will have to pay for your prescriptions out-of-pocket, or you will be charged a late enrollment penalty if you add drug coverage to your plan. You can enroll in a drug coverage plan with the same methods you would use to change your plan.

3) If You Have Additional Coverage

If you have coverage through an employer or other program, it is important to understand their qualifications for continued coverage. In some cases, your program may terminate your coverage if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. However, it is possible that you can use your Medicare Advantage plan alongside your program’s coverage. It is also important to remember that, if you drop your program or employer’s coverage, you may be permanently disenrolled from that insurance plan.

If you have coverage from Medicare and your employer, there are two types of coverage. Each type of coverage is called a “payer,” with primary and secondary coverage.

  • The primary payer is the insurance that pays first and will pay up to the limits of its coverage.
  • The second payer pays second, and only pays if there are costs that weren’t covered by the primary insurer. But even then, it isn’t guaranteed that all of the costs will be covered.

You will have to understand if your employer is the primary or secondary payer. If they are the secondary payer, you may need to enroll in Medicare Part B.

 

Switching to new Medicare plan is something that could be beneficial to your lifestyle because it will better fit into it. With that being said, however, it can sometimes be a difficult task. That’s why The Best Senior Services are here to help. If you have any questions or confusion, do not hesitate to contact us today. We will connect you with a local licensed agent who will be able to answer everything with you. Call us today at 855.979.8277 or visit our website.

Understanding Medicare is hard. Let’s not make it any more difficult than it has to be.